Category Archives: Only child

CRA gives seniors short shrift

It used to be important to get your annual tax returns in on time. Then it could take up to six weeks to get your Notice of Assessment – to find out if you did your returns correctly and if you owed more or less or were getting a return. Not anymore. Now the CRA is saying to wait eight weeks.

But that’s not correct. A friend of mine who is a senior filed a few days before deadline and she just got her Notice the first week in July – that is one week later than eight weeks.

But my situation is worse. I had to phone the CRA customer service line and did so July 11. Here is my story.

I mailed my tax returns for 2016 on April 28 (our deadline was May 1, 2017 because April 30 was on a weekend). I sent the returns Priority Post with a signature required. They arrived on time and there was a signature. Because I tracked it online I was able to print out the signature before it disappeared at the site a few weeks later. I also had my mailing receipt from the sub-post office. So I had proof of filing on time,

Nothing had arrived in my mailbox and so July 11 I made my phone call. The customer service person was good. She checked and found that the last entry they had for my tax returns was that it had been inventoried as received the third week in May (three weeks after they received it). She suggested she do a Status Enquiry which is basically what it says  and is a reminder that the clerks who are checking the returns better get off their asses and go through the return. She said it could take up to four weeks and then I should get my N. of A. So I authorized her to do so.

Nothing happened for weeks. As the one month deadline approached, I again called the CRA customer service and the fellow there checked the status. My return and notice of assessment would be completed August 11 and then mailed to me.

August 11 is exactly one month after the Status Enquiry went in.

I received my N of A Tuesday, August 15. As I had figured out I owed no money and was getting nothing back – everything in that area is a big fat zero. I was a few dollars out in my calculations. But I am still living below the poverty line.

But the kicker is a lot of the extra seniors’ funds I get from both the federal and provincial government depends on this Notice of Assessment. No Notice of Assessment by mid-July and I don’t receive (if only temporarily): my Ontario Government Energy and property tax monthly grant payment, and from the Federals the quarterly HST/GST tax rebate, my Ontario Government Seniors Grant – a lump sum of $500. you can get once a year if you apply for it, which I did. I also lost the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) which with my low income I had become entitled to. And my Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors (provincial) ran out the end of July and I got notice I would have to re-apply because they hadn’t received my Notice of Assessment from the CRA. That was the same reason for the GIS stopping and I have to re-apply. I have re-applied for the drug plan – at least the application time deadline is the end of September. The rest I am supposed to get at some point in time. I still have my meagre Canada Pension Plan money and the actual Old Age Security payments coming in.

In the meantime, excluding the lump sum for seniors and the quarterly GST rebate, since July I have been receiving $500 less a month. Fortunately in July, two editing clients paid me installments for work I am doing so that has carried me over to mid-August. But the bills keep coming in including the big quarterly water and waste utility bill. I am not taking holidays this year – I can’t afford to travel.

Now, I’m living on a few hundred dollars until the next CPP/OAS payment the end of this month – plus all the other money I’m waiting for.

But I’m not holding my breath. In fact, I’m going to exhale all the way down to my federal MP’s office to complain. Clearly the timeline for CRA vis-a-vis seniors payments has to be extended if they can’t get the tax returns processed even within their own timelines.

So, I ask you: is the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) short changing seniors?

What do you think? Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 2016 and 2017, finances, Old Age pensions, Only child, Seniors

Only child’s take on dining out(side)

Only Child with Mom in the backyard

In the stifling hot days of summer, my mother would haul out the whole paraphernalia for our family of three to eat outside in the summer. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when air-conditioned homes were not the norm. But at suppertime, our backyard had shade.

So, with some help from Dad and me, and several trips – from the kitchen, down the side stairs, out into the driveway to the backyard went a small card table, three chairs, table cloth, serviettes, cutlery, plates, and all the dishes of food – depending on what we were eating. And yes, it was often hot food. But the entrance to the backyard was inviting – an archway of red roses.

Only Child’s Dad under the backyard entrance

It was enjoyable eating outside in the breeze. But when even the temperature in the shade rose too high, mom used her backup plan – eating in the basement. Before the basement renovation, we would sit in our own private dining room with black floors, huge cement pillars, a furnace turned off for the summer, the old coal bin (which remained after the switch to oil heat) and mother’s pride and joy – her root cellar where all her canned jams, pickles, green tomatoes and the like were stored.

You could say it was all a labour of love combined with necessity – either roast or eat the roast, be cool or sweat.

But Mom had a dirty little secret, one which was shared among some of the women on her side of the family.

Except for cooking, canning and sewing, my mother hated housework.

I don’t recall her even doing a weekly housecleaning, except for laundry and it got hung out (even sometimes in winter) until she purchased a clothes dryer. But vacuuming and dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc.? Only if company was coming.

Then it was the big hustle to make everything neat and clean. Put away in closets and drawers were all her sewing paraphernalia – including the portable machine. You see, the home for all of that was the dining room table. And we needed that for the dinners for company. Company was mostly family and some friends. Mom did love to cook and bake and our family loved to eat.

But cleaning the house. Not in our genes.

And I think this dislike, even hatred for doing housework, is in the genes. I can’t find any scientific proof, so I will use anecdotes. My mother’s youngest sister , my godmother, was the same – loved to cook and bake, garden, and can, but clean? However, my godmother was a farmer’s wife, so there was lots else to do that your average housewife of the 50s and 60s didn’t do. But that doesn’t explain one of my Detroit Michigan cousins – who loved to sew and cook but hated to clean.

Are you getting the picture?

As for me – well I love to cook and garden, but freeze and dry garden vegetables and fruit (sometimes from the Farmer’s Market, not just my garden). I used to like to sew but lost interest over the years – I blame that on other interests taking over, lack of sufficient time, but also bad eyesight. When I am forced to mend an item of clothing, I can take more time threading the needle because I can’t see the hole, than actually mending. And this from a woman who made all her maternity clothes and used to quilt by hand.

As for the weekly housecleaning – some of it gets done – the laundry, changing bed-sheets, clean kitchen counters and sinks, and vacuum or mop. Dusting? Maybe every six weeks – to borrow a friend’s phrase “too much work.”

But nothing beats going outside on the veranda or in my backyard patio to eat my meals. I have it easier than Mom. Sure, for the backyard, I have to use a side door like Mom. But there is a patio table and umbrella already out there, so it is just bring out the food, sit down and eat. And breathe in, feast my eyes and nose on the flowers and veggies in my garden.

Top of my patio table up close

 

And try to keep the wasps away. I’m allergic to them. But it’s my patio and my garden.  So when it’s not raining, I’ll sit, eat and enjoy.

Looking from the patio at fresh lettuce, rhubarb and oregano

 

So, do you regularly clean your house, condo or apartment?

Or do you have better things to do? And if so, what are they?

I’d like some comments about this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family, Garden, Gardening, Heat summer, Hereditary, Home and Garden, Mom and Dad, Only child

Canada Day got rained on

People walk through puddles on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day 150. (Fred Chartrand/THE CANADIAN PRESS) See story and more photos here.

 

This photo from a Canadian Press story gives one instance of the many Canada Day celebrations in southern and eastern Ontario which were pelted with rain. Ottawa, Canada’s capital was filled with puddles in the main celebration vein on Parliment Hill. Here in east Toronto, I finally made it to the local celebrations at Stan Wadlow Park. It is my Canada Day tradition to do this – check out all the vendors, stay around for some of the music performances, walk through the Rockery Garden and sit by the garden for a lunch that I make and bring. After that, I usually go for a long walk in that neighbourhood to look at and see the front of people’s gardens and their Canada Day flags and other celebration paraphernalia. In this walk, I wind my way back to one of the main streets and get on a bus to go home.

Not this July 1. I had visited all the booths and was just heading across the grass for the Rockery when the rain started to come down. It had been grey skies with a little sun when I left home but I had taken my chances. This was Canada Day and I wanted to celebrate. So, I brought rain gear – umbrella and raincoat and wore my rain-proofed shoes.

Might as well have worn an evening gown. All the good that rain gear did. I made it to under the big overhang of the clubhouse – as did several other people before it came down harder. No point hanging around until it stopped as the grass would be puddles and messy. But the rain gear didn’t really help when I stepped out to leave, so it was back under the overhang until the rain trickled down to a drizzle. Then, shaking my fist at the sky, I left.

So much for celebrating at a community event. I didn’t bother going to the fireworks after dark as I didn’t want to sit on damp ground.

The rain returned in batches of heavy rain and thunderstorms on Sunday too. But I manged to get back to Stan Wadlow park and walked through the Rockery. And I brought a lunch which I sat on the bench and ate. But no long walk around the neighbourhood. I had barely finished eating when the dark skies were back so I hurried to the nearby bus stop, and got on the bus just before  it poured. But this time I wasn’t heading for home. This time I headed down to Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto where the festivities were supposed to be continuing. There was something going on, but I had missed the best of it. At least it had stopped raining and the sun was shining. Maybe I should have headed down to Sugar Beach for the Redpath Festival. By the beach on the lake was parked a very large rubber duck. Despite it’s lack of appropriateness for Canada Day per se, the rubber ducky was appropriate for all this wet rainy weather. Mr. Duck was in the right place at the right time.

Monday, yesterday was fine – lots of sun and warm. I walked locally for a mile and a quarter and did some gardening as well as some weekly housecleaning. And I cooked. Nothing stopped me from cooking this weekend. And eating. And raising a glass of white wine to toast Canada Day 150.

But all this rain we have been making me think. Especially as my hose is still curled up from when the handyman fixed the tap and put on a new attachment at the other end of the hose – over a month ago. I haven’t needed to use that hose yet. We are really being rained off this earth – if you look at all the photos and videos from around the world. With the exception of a few places like parts of California, earth has turned into a huge washout. Is there a  message in this? Should we start building arks or going to outer space?

I also decided to check out a few rain statistics. Here are a few links to check out

National Weather Office in Georgia

The Weather Network (pick your city and pick your video).

And less we forget about just one of the big rainfalls this spring and early summer. Here’s one town in Quebec.


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

In Toronto, Toronto Island, across one part of Lake Ontario, is still closed to visitors. Only those who live there and make deliveries are allowed. No ferry boats of tourists. But on a good note the water on Woodbine Beach is receding.

And here’s my dormant hose.

 

Perhaps if we all shook our fists at the sky. Collectively. Like a reverse rain dance. Never mind what your beliefs of why the rain. All this rain, heavy winds, tornadoes and the like come from the sky.

One two three. Shake that fist.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada Day, Extreme Weather, Floods, Only child, Rain

The beat goes on for Only Child’s problems

How Only Child feels about the latest problems.

If I thought all the excess happenings in my life I posted about last week were more than enough, I have now reached higher or lower (depending on how you see it) limits.

AND I DON’T LIKE IT:

Why? Because they steal from my time, cause much frustration and pain, an make me very angry.

Here are two to add to the long list.

Health – now it’s my feet causing me grief. True I have a common problem – hammer toes and bunions – partly inherited from my late mother and partly caused by a life-time foot situation-i.e. flat feet. But there is more to it than just that. I’ve had various degrees of this problem for years but the pain in the right foot is recent. It travels from toe to foot bottom to another toe and sometimes there is no pain. From yesterday the pain seemed to go down or be gone. But I’m not trusting that to be the end of it as there are still a few pain quirks.

Living on low income for years also contributed to it. Podiatrists’ services and their products are not covered by OHIP – the dwindling Ontario health insurance plan. Anyone who thinks Canada’ health insurance is great and universal, can think again. You have to have secondary health insurance for all the “extras” (which are really part of your overall health) and if like me you can’t afford the health insurance you are out of luck.

The other one is computer-related – sort of. It is okay to be learning as you go with a new Mac laptop (and my son got it for me – I’m paying him back) -that’s expected. I’m using the MacBook for Dummies 2016 version.

It’s when one of your social media accounts and some of the basics just won’t work. I’m referring to bloody Facebook where I have an author page. Suddenly I can’t post anything or create an event. Well I can type the info into the box but when I hit “post” nothing happens. Yet, so far my two blogs’ weekly posts are still streamlined automatically to my Facebook page from WordPress. But that’s WordPress, not Facebook. And trying to find someone in Customer Service to fill in a form for help to solve the problem, well good luck. I did post a question to the Facebook Help Centre – at least I think I did. Who knows if it actually got posted.

With WordPress, if I can’t find a solution in their Help Centre I fill out their help support form. And I get an answer within a few days. And the answers are  usually helpful.

These are just two of the never-ending problems I’m faced with (pun intended). In line with that and my cutting what I do actions I might just not make it to an event I was going to this evening. It is free but it starts at 6 p.m., and no it’s not dinner. I have client work to do today and after all this social media nonsense (to promote an event I’m involved in as an author), I need to spend some time after lunch doing this client’s work. The client has been so patient so far with all my health issues since the beginning of 2017 and also having to take time to do several rewrites of my new Beyond mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall (Plug here). I do not mind doing the rewrites at the publisher’s suggestion. That is par for the course.

It’s all this health stuff and social media snafus I don’t like or accept.

I definitely don’t follow the old serenity prayer. I believe that if problems are shoved at you, you do two things: solve the problem and if the problem is caused by someone else, get after them. But I also believe we all get too many problems to deal with in life.

Which throws out another belief, i.e., God gives us only the number of crosses we can bear. Or something like that.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Facebook, finances, Health, Healthcare coverage, Life demands, mystery novels, Only child, Pain, Problems

Church closure sign of declining church attendance

Another church closes its doors – Presteign-Woodbine United Church in the eastern part of Toronto offically closes its doors in June. But services have already stopped and it recently held its last annual spring variety show.

The church is merging with another church – but this is another sign of declining church attendance in Canada. The percentage of decline is not consistent in reports and surveys, but some show as high as 60 percent.

I’m more interested in the why than the what as I believe (pun intended) the what follows the why.

So, here is my somewhat biased take on declining church attendance. Disclaimer or whatever. I don’t go to church anymore except for funerals and weddings. And unfortunately at my age, the latter is more prevalent. The latter is also often taken out of the church and to that I say, good. We want to celebrate someone’s life, not their church attendance record when they were alive.

So why the decline?

It is all too easy to blame it on societal trends, i.e., from religious to secular. To me that is only a part of the whole. Yes, people are too busy and have to prioritize what they do or run around in overwhelm.

But when they do prioritize is church attendance near the top of the priority list? Not for many it seems.

More important, religious denominations are not giving us what we want and need. And on a deeper level, some people have turned away from God because they have either stopped believing that he exists or they just don’t think he is listening to them. They feel they are praying to dead air. And when they look at the extreme weather, terrorism, etc. in the world today, that only adds fuel to their fire. No, I’m not saying God is to blame for all that. But when people turn to their church they don’t get answers, they don’t get help, they don’t get peace.

In other words, churches and their services are no longer relevant for many people. And some, who may be angry at God, take it out on the closest to God place they know – i.e., churches, and just don’t attend services any more.

All the Yoga classes, dance classes, daycare, etc. held in churches won’t keep the church doors open – as a church at least. Perhaps if the building turned into a community centre, it would be more relevant.

As for Presteign-Woodbine United Church closing – the building could end up in the hands of a developer, although at this point I don’t know of anything concrete. It was speculated in a news story on Global TV over the weekend. Unfortunately, this church is not an old enough building to get historical status – it looks too  modern inside and out (No, I didn’t attend services there, but a few years ago, took Yoga classes there). But a community centre function even with some structural additions would beat tearing it down and building a condo.

And to get back on the decline in church attendance. Sources can’t agree on that one. Just Google “Canadian church attendance decline Statistics 2016” or Google that without naming a country.

Interesting reading.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Beliefs, Church Attendance, God, Life demands, Only child, Prayer

Devastating Floods sign of what’s to come?

Toronto Island Flooding

 

The floods came this past weekend – from southern Ontario to southern Quebec to New Brunswick to…

Hey, wait a second (not a minute – you could drown in a minute) – this isn’t just happening in Canada – it is occurring all over the world on an ongoing basis.. And I don’t think it is one big coincidence.

First, a disclaimer. As many of you know, I am not religious. But religious or not, I can’t help feeling that those who believed that the end of the world would come in October 2012 are not far off the mark. They got the date wrong, but not the end result. The floods and fires and tornadoes and hurricanes that are now a regular weather occurrence, provide a lot of meat to this theory. And I don’t think doing a Noah, i.e., building a big ark is going to work.

The photos make the water getting in my basement Friday into Saturday seem almost paltry as I was able to contain it using many towels and many towel changes – including setting the alarm clock for 4.30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Of course, all this work, the wet, the damp and the worry just made my health worse. Multiply that many thousands of times to those flooded out of their homes and the situation is almost incomprehensible.

And there is the danger to trees, the soil and other parts of nature. It isn’t only we humans who are hurt.

Being a former journalist I, of course, need to know why.

If you take the “end of the world” theory, you can take it from there to see where perhaps a lot of the blame lies. And not necessarily only with people. Remember not all global warming is caused by what people do and have done. For example, volcanoes cause 20 to 21 per cent of global warming.

Methinks we all need to do two things. Help those who are hit by disaster – where and how we can. Don’t forget nature – plant more trees once the waters recede.Tell your loved ones that you love them. And try to live one day at a time.

I’ll end with another photo and a link to more at

The Weather Network

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under End of World Predictions, Extreme Weather, Floods, Life demands, Only child, Weather

My health gobbled my life part ??

Only child contemplates health and stats

I figure that since January 1 this year I have wasted at least three weeks dealing with unwelcome health issues. Not three weeks at a time but if I tallied up all the time. From dental extractions to complications from them, my ongoing disgestive disorder and its complications (malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies that cause other problems), eye problems, sinus problems, etc., etc.

You can get the picture.

So, instead of just complaining I thought I would do a little research on health statistics for seniors and well, all adults. One source, the CDC puts the percentage of seniors (65 and over who aren’t living in seniors’stitutions) in poor health as 21 per cent. When it gets into specifics, such as hypertension those figures escalate. The page has several links for more health info about seniors.

For all of us, no matter how old we are, stress plays a big factor. And if you take stress into another level – what is causing the stress, you can not only rack up why you are getting sick (physically or mentally) you can get in a loop because being sick causes more stress. And all that steals from your valuable time, steals from your enjoyment of life.

I’m not providing any answers today – that is for another post or posts. Today, I’m just providing some links to information, particularly with statistics. They say misery loves company. I say “misery NEEDS company”.

Here are a few more links.

Symptoms of Stress statistics here

What’s stressing the stressed? See Stats Canada info here

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Worrying